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Vessy Tasheva: ‘The inclusive leader gives empathy, hope and stability to employees’

While leaders may say Diversity and Inclusion is important — few say it’s urgent. Vessy Tasheva, one of Europe’s most influential D&I leaders, is on a mission to change that. “Most organisations don’t measure their D&I work. Listing something as a priority doesn’t even scratch the surface.”

Jasper Spanjaart on March 17, 2021 Average reading time: 3 min
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Vessy Tasheva: ‘The inclusive leader gives empathy, hope and stability to employees’

As diversity continues to rank highly on the list of priorities for talent leaders worldwide — another question arises: how can we avoid a wide scale diversity washing? A situation wherein organisations continue to make statements that look great, but don’t actually showcase, or have, anything to back it up. It’s something that worries Vessy Tasheva, who works as a diversity and inclusion consultant for various international clients.

I help my clients adopt OKRs (objectives and key results, red.) in D&I. We can make impact and we can show that impact.”

Most organisations don’t measure their D&I work”, she says. “I’m not talking about representation stats, but anything that shows what objectives have been achieved and what key results back them up. That’s why I help my clients adopt OKRs (objectives and key results, red.) in D&I. We can make impact and we can show that impact. Listing something as a priority doesn’t even scratch the surface.”

‘Intersection of mental health and D&I’

Tasheva was named as one of 2019’s most influential D&I global leaders by Hive. Born in Bulgaria — she blazed a trail for others, after coming out publicly in the 2007 Magazine of the American University in Bulgaria. Subsequently, she founded the university’s first gay-straight alliance in 2009 — and has since then excelled at working at the intersection of mental health and diversity & inclusion. “My mission is to remove internal and external barriers”, she says. “So people live happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives.”

Vessy Tasheva is one of the keynote speakers at ToTalent Live: The European Recruitment Leadership Event. Sign up here to claim a free ticket to this three-day event starting March 23rd. 

The need for diversity among recruiters

This past summer, our research showed that BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) recruiters are strongly underrepresented in the Netherlands. Tasheva sees a similar problem happening in Ireland — where she is based. “Most recruiters are white female Irish employees, predominantly straight”, she says. “If someone is even just from another nationality, they can already feel like an outsider on their own team.”

“Why join a company where the people team can struggle to get your perspective?”

“We need to be strategic with the recruitment teams we build – they need to reflect the talent we want to attract and retain”, she continues. “Race-related incidents at work, for example, are underreported in Ireland because it’s harder to explain how you feel excluded or discriminated because of your race to a white-only team. So why join a company where the people team can struggle to get your perspective? If you could, you’d naturally go for a company with a people team with more diverse perspectives.”

It starts with leadership

Tasheva sees three key factors where people base their stay-or-leave decisions on. “Autonomy, flexibility of the remote working (geographies, period of time, salary formula), and inclusive leadership are becoming the key factors”, she says. “My advice? Move away from silos and towards autonomy, put the infrastructure in place that allows you to hire people anywhere in the world, and ensure your leaders are inclusive – trained, open and curious to work with and mentor people from various backgrounds.”

The inclusive leader gives empathy, hope, stability to the employees.”

As part of the solution towards more inclusive leadership, Tasheva sees a real opportunity for one-on-one coaching sessions. “Yes, the leader needs to want this, for real”, she says. “This is the space where they can share their biases, experiences and questions without worrying about their reputation so we can safely examine them one by one. That’s where the education needs to start. The inclusive leader gives empathy, hope, stability to the employees. They know how to be playful at times or introduce play to processes. They also know how to practice self care.”

Want to hear more from Vessy Tasheva?

ToTalent Live 2021 is the first ever European Recruitment Leadership Event. On March 23rd, 24th and 25th, hosted by Hung Lee, we’re taking three strategic topics and presenting you with some of the very best insights you can think of. Vessy Tasheva will take the virtual floor on the first day of our three-day event. Don’t miss her incredible insights and sign up now. 

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Writer and editor at ToTalent

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